Sunday, December 7, 2008

Attitude Adjustment

Unfortunately, my motorbike has been giving me trouble from the day I bought it. I got a flat tire within the first few days of getting it. As long as that needed to be fixed, I decided to have the tires replaced. They were due. I also bought the bike without working turn signals and wanted to get those fixed. It turned out that the signals didn't have sockets for bulbs, and the bike didn't have a decent battery in it. All of the wiring needed to be replaced too. I had the wiring done at the same place that put on the new tires. I figured they did a decent job with the tires, so I'd give them some more business. They put in a new horn, battery, and turn signals. But they lost the air filter cover. In the picture above, it's the blue thing just below and behind the handle bars. They replaced it with one that they "custom made" from a can of coolant.
Of course, the lights and horn went out not long after they were installed. Then, on the way home from teaching one day. I ran out of gas. Which was odd, because I was sure I had plenty in the tank. Luckily, (I thought) there were some corner mechanics right there to help me out. There are guys on every other block that just sort of hang out on the sidewalk and wait for someone to break down. It seems like anybody with a handful of tools can call themselves a mechanic and go into the business. So they put some gas in the tank from a jug that they had on hand. It immediately drained out of the bottom of the tank through the fuel line that had come loose. They stuck the line back onto the tank and poured in a little more gas, but the bike still wouldn't start. In hindsight, that's when I should have gotten my bike away from them. But I let them try to fix it. They pulled out the spark plug, destroyed it with a wire brush, and put it back in. Then tried without success to push start it. After some negotiating over their fee (shouting) I paid them for the gas and their work, and pushed the bike home.

Luckily, (for real this time) I got in touch with Andrew at VIP Bikes, and he fit me in there. VIP Bikes was set up by Blue Dragon to provide vocational training for Blue Dragon kids who want to become mechanics. The apprentices at VIP bikes are the best mechanics I've come across in town. They got my bike running again, replaced the spark plug, fuel line, and ignition switch that was ruined by the dumped gas, and Andrew actually gave me a small set of hand tools. So I can open my own sidewalk shop I guess.

Unfortunately, they gave her a look over and she could use a lot of work. It hasn't been idling since then either. I found the choke (I think) that is now being held by a wire.
And it explains why there is no choke cable connected to the controls.So I could get a cable and attach it, or adjust the choke at the carburetor in the mean time, but I'm not going to. The fact that it dies whenever I let go of the throttle has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the ignition broke and letting the bike die is the only way I have to shut it off.

The bolts that held my back seat to the rack worked themselves loose from vibration a few weeks ago, and I lost the back seat somewhere between a couple of evening lessons on Thursday night.

So I was looking her over and thinking about getting rid of her and just renting a bike for the rest of my time in Hanoi. Or maybe buying something else.

The white plastic fairing is cracked too.

So I decided to do what I could to fix what I could the other day. I washed the bike, took off the fairing and taped it up, took the back rack off completely (To cut weight. It's really more of a racing bike anyway), and reconnected the loose wire from the horn.

At some point, I remembered working on my BMW back in Chicago. I had to do everything out on the street, which was a huge hassle. If I needed to go in to grab another tool or something, I had to take everything with me because I couldn't leave anything out on the sidewalk. I remember wishing that I lived in a ground floor place that I could ride my bike into so that I could work on it inside. And that's when I realized two things. First, that my dream home is a garage. And secondly, that I actually have what I wanted back in Chicago. I have a great place to work on my bike...And a bike that is constantly falling apart. It's a dream come true!

When I buttoned everything back up the horn worked again, and as if by a miracle, so did the turn signals. So I've added a couple of items to my little tool kit......(the switchblade and tootsie pop don't come standard), and I've just decided to enjoy the ride.
She still cleans up nice don't she?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seth and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.